Doing What You Love: Focusing on Goals Under Stress

Focus On Your Goals | Lettering via Happy Hands Project

For me this year, the peak season for wedding calligraphy started on the later part of the 3rd quarter. I was on my first trimester of pregnancy at the time, and I was feeling extra emotional and tired. After tucking my daughter to sleep, I couldn’t get myself to work some more. I thought, how will I get through the wedding season if I was tired all the time? I was worried, but sleep always got the better of me. I hit the sack a couple of hours earlier than usual.

Then I worry again the next day because of the work that has been piling up.

Calligraphy and lettering is something I do because I love doing it. I like writing, and drawing letters, ever since I was a little girl. So why is this whole thing, the thing I’m supposed to love, is stressing me out? Now that I’m well into my second trimester and down to my last calligraphy addressing project for the year, I’m feeling much better and excited for what the coming year has to bring. I was able to accomplish the invitation suites for December weddings (and even one for March!), delivered place cards right on time, and also had a few large-sized calligraphy done for some clients. Let me share with you some of the things that kept me motivated — and sane — during the time when the work load was almost too much to handle.

FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS
I was able to do this by listing my goals down on paper. Seeing it on my wall makes it more ‘real’, and I was able to focus on my priorities instead of procrastinating and doing less important things. Focus on your daily or weekly goals and stick to it.

TAKE BREAKS
So yes, it’s important to get work done, but you’re headed for burn out if you don’t take a breather once in a while. There was a 250-word poem that I had to rewrite 3 times because of some silly mistakes I’ve made and it was frustrating! There was one evening when everything seemed to go wrong. I knocked my ink over, the envelope drying rack tumbled, and my hand was shaky. Why not take a break? Making watercolour washes on my pad relaxes me, and scribbling with my brush pens calms me down. Trust me, it works. By the time I got back to writing, it was so much better.

CHECK YOUR WORK
I’m lucky to have a husband who designs as well, and was willing to give his creative input into my work. Having another pair of eyes look through your finished work is better because he/she may see things differently than you do. Having someone else proofread is also a good idea. However, some of us would prefer to do things on our own and if this is the case, carefully check your work before sending it out. It saves time because you don’t have to do things over again, and you’ll have happy clients all the way.

ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS
I had to give up some calligraphy workshops during this period. As much as I love to teach this craft, and I get emails asking when my next class would be, I knew I couldn’t handle it. Take a step back and see how your work load is, and learn to say no if you simply cannot handle any more. Your clients will thank you because you’ll be able to churn out better work.

REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE
When work gets too much for you to handle, pause and ask yourself why you’re working so hard for this anyway. I pick up my pen and dip it in ink and get lost in pointed pen bliss because it makes me happy. I’m passionate about this craft, and I want to share the beauty of calligraphy. What makes you do what you do? Think about it, and it’ll put a smile on your lips. Now check your daily goals and focus on them because believe me, it feels pretty good to get some work done.

Good luck and enjoy the ride!

5 Premium Brush Fonts Worth Checking Out

 

5-Brush-Lettering-Fonts-via-Happy-Hands-Project

Am I the only one hooked on brush lettering fonts? Everytime I click on Creative Market, there is a vast number of brush fonts for sale. For those who find lettering with a brush a bit challenging, one can always invest in a font or two to make artworks.

After pointed pen calligraphy, I also love lettering with a brush and trying out different styles can be tricky. For the beginner, looking at the structure and letter forms of these fonts can help one understand how these are written. These fonts are so natural-looking and you can even see the strokes on the letters. Talk about organic!

Wish I could give away a font that I have designed myself. But while I figure out how that dream will come to fruition, let me share with you my favourite premium brush fonts so far:

Bonjour by Nicky Laatz
Botanica Script by My Creative Land
Heartwell Italic by Flavor Type
Manhattan Darling by Make Media Co.
Smitten by Make Media Co.

Enjoy!

Lettering Without Thinking: Part II

Last year I wrote something called Lettering Without Thinking. With all the calligraphy commission works I’ve been doing lately, I didn’t have much time to use my brushes and just play with them. With calligraphy, I’m always concerned about legibility and balance, and whether the thickness of my strokes are consistent. I do play around with my pointed pen, but it’s not as carefree as no-nonsense writing with a brush.

Brush Lettering via Happy Hands Project

Let me share with you a couple of pieces I’ve done a week ago, using a round #8 brush and black Ecoline watercolour. The only thing I wanted to do here is to centralise all the words, write them big and small, make a mess, and have fun. And I was able to do all those — I just made sure I had a lot of paper that’s ready to use. I didn’t do these all in one go! I did a few different styles and chose these two as my favourites.

Brush Lettering via Happy Hands Project

Here are a few suggestions on how to experiment. You’ll get different results every time!

  • Try different brushes
  • Use watercolours, and don’t wash your brush when changing colours
  • Tear your papers’ edges for a rustic look
  • Splatter some ink when you’re done, just resist the urge to overdo it!
  • Don’t think — just go crazy!

Have fun lettering, everyone!

Brush Lettering via Happy Hands Project

Lettering With Sharpies

Lettering With Sharpies via Happy Hands Project

I’ve been using selected colours of Sharpies in the past few years. Aside from black which I use almost every time I do script lettering for commission works, I also have silver, gold and bronze. As a graphic designer, I create all my lettering in black then colour them in my trusty laptop.

Everything totally changed last week when I received a full set of Sharpies for a class I will be teaching in a couple of weeks. I wanted to test the tools and see if the markers will work well with the paper. I made my sketch in pencil and started filling it with colour… and I was hooked! I just realised that it’s actually fun to go totally traditional and colour my artwork on paper.

I mean seriously, why would we rely on the computer when it’s all the more fun to fill in the colours by hand? I was thinking about why I didn’t do this before, and I could only think of a couple of things — first, colouring it in Illustrator is more convenient. I can do and redo as I please. Command Z. Trusty shortcuts. The works. Second, I wasn’t confident that I’ll be able to nail the colours in one go. There’s no ‘undo’ in the analog world. If I’m not pleased with my work in the end, there’s no other choice but to crumple the paper and do the whole thing all over again.

Well, obviously my lettering still needs a lot of improvement, but I’m quite happy that I did it anyway. I guess it never hurts to try a new tool, and if it doesn’t work the way you expected it to, don’t give up! I’ll probably be opening a Beginners’ Lettering Class here in Singapore in the near future so if you’re on this island, email me if you’re interested! In the meantime, here are a few more Sharpie DIYs around the web that I think might be fun to try:

  • If addressing envelopes in calligraphy seem intimidating for a beginner, here’s a way to use Sharpies instead. So pretty!
  • For coffee lovers like me (who can’t get enough of mugs), this is a fun DIY to try.
  • I’m in love with these black journals with gold Sharpie lettering! Gold on black never goes out of style, even if it’s not Christmas.

Have fun lettering with colours! xo

Season’s Greetings Clear Stamps from Mama Elephant

I learned from the ladies of Mama Elephant that it’s never too early for Christmas. Just recently, they posted the ‘First Looks’ of the soon-to-be-released Christmas stamps with my brush lettering. How exciting! It’s still hard for me to believe that my hand-lettering has been transformed into these clear stamps. I think it’s really awesome.

I may not have a knack for designing greeting cards using Mama Elephant stamps yet, but I need to take the plunge soon. One of the things I’m going to work on before the year ends! Here are a couple of ‘First Looks’ from their blog, and you can read the full post over here.

Mama Elephant Christmas Stamps via Happy Hands Project

They ship these goodies internationally, too!

Lettering Without Thinking

Have you ever tried holding your brush or pen and just writing whichever way you want? With all the ‘rules’ we need to remember when writing with a pointed pen, not thinking about writing at all can be liberating. I always say that it’s better to ‘not think, just write’, and that you’ll get a good result nevertheless.

Lettering Without Thinking via Happy Hands Project-

But how about just scrawling large words onto paper and not caring what the outcome is? I’ve coined a term for it – ok, not really, but still – I call it Lettering Without Thinking. So it’s not that clever, but it makes you want to try it, right? Just whip out your brush, dip it in paint and write – no holds barred.

Lettering Without Thinking via Happy Hands Project-

Gather all your materials – copy paper, watercolour or acrylic paint, brush pens, Sharpies, paintbrushes, the sky’s the limit. Experiment with different brushes and pigments and see how your works turn out. It’s like Jackson Pollock writing letters. It’s messy, it’s invigorating, and who knows, you might actually come up with something frame-worthy.

Lettering Without Thinking via Happy Hands Project

It’s a breath of fresh air after doing Copperplate drills or trying to figure out a certain flex nib. And you know what? I somewhat feel that I will be doing this more often.

‘Make A Wish’ Stamp Set Winner

First off, thank you to everyone who joined the giveaway. You were all amazing! Your kind and welcoming words were very heartwarming and I enjoyed reading through all your wishes. I just realised how cold it probably is on the other side of the planet – a lot of you were wishing for Spring! Just a week ago we were wishing for rain here in Singapore. It has become so dry, grass is turning brown, and forests were burning. We got our wish eventually and I’m sure all of us heaved a sigh of relief when the first drops of rain fell.

Now for the giveaway, I have chosen a winner! Making the decision was really tough because there were really quite a lot of touching and profound wishes. If only I could play Santa! So, drumroll please… congratulations Jenny Renee! Here’s the wish that will win your hearts:

 

“If I could have one wish today it would be to be given a complete day off from both of my jobs so that I can spend time with my kids. Being the sole provider can be tough and involves sacrifices, like not spending as much time with them as I would like.”

 

Jenny Renee, please send your full name and mailing address to pauline (at) happyhandsproject.com for your ‘Make A Wish‘ stamp set from Mama ElephantCurious as to what the ‘Make A Wish‘ stamp set looks like on handmade cards? I scoured 2 wonderful blogs and here are my favourites:

Happy Birthday Card via Happy Hands Project
Go On Celebrate Card via Happy Hands Project

Make A Wish Card via Happy Hands Project

 

I can’t thank you enough for all your responses. Another hand-lettered stamp set will be released soon so drop by soon for another update! You can also like The Happy Hands Project page on Facebook so you’ll be kept in the loop.